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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: Workers remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Market Street Park July 10, 2021. Statues of General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and colonial explorers Lewis and Clark were also removed. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

And The Horse You Rode In On: The Final Glad Surrender of Charlottesville's Confederate Losers

Abby Zimet

In a much-lauded if century-late act of civic probity, Charlottesville, VA this weekend removed three statues of murderous Confederate icons that had drawn the zeal of torch-burning neo-Nazis in 2017 and the longtime rueful loathing of everyone else. On the same date that Congress in 1868 passed the 14th Amendment to protect the rights of black Americans - "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States...nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" - mostly black city workers deftly strapped up and trucked off Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Lewis and Clark as cheering onlookers exclaimed, "And the people said, Amen" and "Halle-fucking-ulah!" The ignoble junking of the once-blood-soaked racist heroes of the Lost Cause was in stark contrast to their ardent unveilings in whites-only parks in the Jim Crow 1920s. Lee was set up days after a newly-rejuvenated KKK held a two-hour parade past "an immense throng of spectators" as speakers celebrated "chivalry," "the great war," and "loyalty to the ancient ideals of the English race." He peaceably stayed there until 2016, when 16-year-old Zyahna Bryant, for a school assignment to envision something she could change, started a petition to remove Lee's bitter image, thus sparking a years-long legal battle by local groups appalled by the "Monumental Lies" of white supremacy.

With the courts finally ruling officials could slap Lee on his horse Traveler and Jackson on Little Sorrel for their last inglorious ride out of town, the City Council voted in 20 minutes to also exile colonizers Lewis and Clark - four for the price of two! - with their native guide Sacagewea crouching behind them, her descendants charged, "like a dog." In the end, it took workers just three hours to strap and chain up the century-old exemplars of racism to begin "aligning our public spaces with our professed values." While a crane loaded Lee for his final surrender, Nikuyah Walker, a former teen mom and the city's fiery first black female mayor, celebrated moving "one small step closer to the goal of helping Charlottesville, Virginia and America grapple with the sin of being willing to destroy Black people for economic gain." True to her mayoral campaign theme of "Unmasking the Illusion," Walker noted, "Our city battles with the falsities that have been created to enshrine whiteness as supreme"; she pointedly added, "It is our hope we stop taking these steps in hundred-year increments." As flatbeds pulled out with their hoary cargo - leaving their stone plinths behind for now - residents clapped, wept, hugged, shouted "thank you" and mournfully noted, "Someone died for this." Online, others declared, "I am here for it" and, "About damn time." Said one on the surreal spectacle of Jackson "being hauled ass-first out of Charlottesville into oblivion - a too-perfect ending."

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, thinning the carrots, hauling too much water, experiencing true if ragged community, and writing. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. 

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